Much has been said about the New York Yankees’ starting pitching situation, but spring training success has brought a new and interesting rotation possibility into the fold. Lefthander Jordan Montgomery has excelled in games thus far and may be a real dark horse candidate to make the Opening Day roster. Below, Montgomery will be profiled, along with ways in which he can impact the big league team this season.
Selected in the fourth round of the 2014 draft, Montgomery has moved quickly through the farm system in just three years. That is certainly not without merit; in 292.2 career innings pitched, the University of South Carolina product has a 2.61 ERA to go along with 286 strikeouts. While an 8.8 K/9 is excellent, his control has been impeccable as well, as he has only averaged 2.7 walks per nine innings. In 2016, he spent time with both Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and was outstanding. His Railriders success was especially magnificent; in six starts in the highest level of the minors, Montgomery gave up a measly four runs in 37 innings.
2017 has started swimmingly for the southpaw, though in a different role than usual. Joe Girardi has used Montgomery exclusively out of the bullpen, but the traditional results have not dissipated with that change. Over 10.1 innings, he has a 3.48 ERA, and his last appearance was particularly impressive; on March 17 against Detroit, Montgomery, along with Masahiro Tanaka and Chasen Shreve, combined to no-hit the Tigers. Based on performance alone, Montgomery seems to have earned a look as a starter this spring, but it might be hard to crack the Opening Day roster.
For starters, the lefty is not on the 40-man roster, meaning that if he were to be called up, someone on said roster would have to be designated for assignment, and with that transaction comes the fear of a team losing its player through a waiver claim. Brian Cashman may not feel comfortable exposing a Yankee to the other 29 teams in the league and projected Scranton/Wilkes-Barre starters Dietrich Enns and Ronald Herrera, both on the 40-man, may be the casualties that come with a Montgomery promotion. In addition to the potential roster ramifications, there simply may not be enough room on the team at the moment. New York already has something of a pitcher logjam, with players like Chad Green and Luis Cessa in the competition as well. More success could force Montgomery into the Yankees’ plans at the expense of the two previously mentioned names, but any drop-off from his current pace may be enough to sink him. Another pitfall may be his lack of experience at the upper levels of the minors; those six superb starts were the only ones of his career at Triple-A, and it may be possible that he needs more seasoning. Whatever the case, Montgomery has brought attention to himself this spring, and while he may be a longshot to make the team as soon as camp breaks, there is a chance he will be pitching in pinstripes before the year is over.
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